According to the headline in today's Cherokee Scout, Cherokee County, North Carolina is now one step closer to having legal gambling. Last week, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council approved a resolution to study the feasibility of establishing a Class II gaming facility near Murphy, North Carolina.
The Eastern Band is one of the largest landholders in the county, with 5,367 acres, including a large parcel of land near Western Carolina Regional Airport and 1,203 acres off US19 near Walmart. Harrah's Cherokee Casino, about 45 miles away from Murphy, is one of the largest employers in western North Carolina and draws more than 3.5 million visitors each year.
Plans were approved 2 years ago to spend $650 million expanding Harrah's Cherokee property, doubling the gambling floor and making the hotel a resort-style facility. That expansion is scheduled for completion in 2012 and is expected to bring even more jobs to the local economy.
A Class II gaming facility can include lotto, high stakes bingo and some types of card games. If the facility is built on tribal land, alcohol could be sold, even in unincorporated parts of the county.
I've been hearing rumors of a casino coming to this area since I moved here 8 years ago. But all indications are that the high unemployment rate in our county caused by the downturn in the housing market may bring action this time.